Monday, July 17, 2017

Contemplative Wonder

Picture Book: Take Your Time: A Tale of Harriet, the Galapagos Tortoise
Authors: Eva Furrow & Donna Jo Napoli
Illustrator: Laurel Molk
Summary: Slow is the way of Harriet, an actual tortoise brought to Australia in the 1800s from the Galapagos Islands.
This story is about her ways on the islands of her birth. 
It includes her slow eating experiences, 
her long sleeps, 
and the puzzlement of other animals who claim she is missing out! 
Harriet begins to wonder what she's missing so she slowly ventures out. She always wanted to see the penguin parade on one of the other islands. 
That event happens in summer so Harriet leaves with months to spare. "She is in no hurry. There is plenty to see along the way," Hammerhead sharks, humpback whales, 
and giant rays. 
Harriet arrives just in time to see the penguins march 
and many other animals: pink flamingos, blue-footed boobies, and red-throated frigate birds are among them. Harriet offers a ride to some young iguanas, a ride so slow that the iguanas grow as Harriet takes them across the dunes. 
When the rainy season comes, Harriet digs a pool for her new friends: centipedes, snakes, and crabs. 
Once the year ends she decides it's time to head for home, slowly as always. 
Months later as she approaches her home island, a group of dolphins comment on Harriet's slow ways. 
They encourage her to jump on and experience "life in the fast lane." Harriet gives it a try. 
She is amazed by their fast pace and graceful ways, but soon the ride gets rough and water and salt are in her face. The thrill is gone. 
Harriet let's go and leisurely swims the last 5 hours to her home while savoring the beauty of the sun and the cool rhythmic waves. The long journey was glorious! 
Once home, Harriet reflects on the variety of movements she witnessed among the animals. She thinks it is so nice that everyone has their own rhythm like herself.  
Harriet slowly settles into the grasses of her home, steeped in wonder and satisfied.
Hanna’s Comments: Harriet is a contemplative figure. She reminds me of a wise old woman, who has much to teach us about slowly discovering the beauty and wonders of God over a lifetime. Perhaps she reminds you of someone in your family of faith or faith history. When Harriet died in 2006, experts said she was about 175 years old, the oldest animal in captivity. Check out the Author's Note in the back of the book for more about the real Harriet. Here's a link to a 2 minute video of her. What a face! There are many videos of giant Galapagos tortoises slowly swimming and walking. These would be great supplements to a program on contemplation or a lesson for young children about God's creative diversity. Ironically, these animals were thought to be poor swimmers until they were seen traveling from island to island, taking their sweet time. Galapagos tortoises are near extinction because of hunting so they are now protected and prized for their slow ways and long lives.
Original Publisher & Date: Henry Holt & Co., 2017
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: Digital
Scripture Connections: I love the place where your glory abides. (Psalm 26:8); The earth is full of your goodness, O God! (Psalm 33:5); Oh taste and see that God is good. (Psalm 34:2); With you is the fountain of life. (Psalm 36:9); Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10); My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast when I meditate on you in the watches of the night (Psalm 63:5-6); You make the gateways of the morning and the evening shout for joy. (Psalm 65:8); Blessed be the Lord God who alone works wonders… may the whole earth be filled with the Lord’s glory. (Psalm 72-18-19); Yours is the day, yours also the night (Psalm 74:16); The whole earth is full of your glory. (Isaiah 6:3); I will show you hidden things that you have not known. (Isaiah 48:6); Awake, awake, put on your strength. (Isaiah 52:1); Happy are those who meditate on wisdom, who reflect in their heart on her ways and ponder her secrets. (Ecclesiasticus 14:20-21)
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of adults in your faith family and explore the benefits of a slower pace, contemplation, and wonder at God’s beauty and glory. Another application is to read this book in a lesson for young children about God's creative diversity. 

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